Charlotte woman anxiously awaits day in court as prosecutors deal with pandemic backlog

Court system closure creates backlog of rape cases

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A Charlotte woman said she is frustrated she has waited more than two years for her day in court. She worries that the coronavirus pandemic has only further delayed a trial.

Kymber, a Charlotte resident whose last name is being withheld for privacy reasons, is an alleged rape victim.

She spoke to WBTV about her case and her concerns with the court process in a recent interview.

She said the alleged rape happened on January 1, 2019 near the 5800 block of University Pointe Blvd in northeast Charlotte.

Kymber claims she was approached by a man she had never met and didn’t realize what his intentions were.

“I was sexually assaulted by an individual who I mistook his kindness for simple kindness,” Kymber told WBTV. “As soon it was over, I called 911, went to the hospital, went through the whole process.”

Two months after the alleged incident, a man was charged for the alleged rape.

Forty-four-year-old Lanair McMurren is facing charges of second-degree rape, second-degree forcible sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping.

It’s now been two years since McMurren was charged for the rape.

His defense attorney, Elizabeth Gerber, declined to comment for this story.

“Two years is too long to wait for the prosecution of a rapist. Even if he doesn’t get convicted, it’s still too long to wait,” said Kymber.

According to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, no trial date has been set for Kymber’s case. The office did confirm that McMurren has already pleaded not guilty.

It’s not uncommon for alleged victims to wait multiple years before a trial can take place, but Mecklenburg County court officials told WBTV that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing further delays for court proceedings.

For a period of several months during the pandemic, jury trials were not being held.

On March 15, trials resumed.

“We are very aware that there has been a delay in a number of trials and we are doing everything that we can, working across the board. It’s not just the courts. It’s the district attorney, it’s the public defender, it’s the clerk who are all working in tandem to ensure that we are addressing the backlog of cases that has come about because of the pandemic,” said Jessica Davis, public information officer for District 26 of North Carolina’s Judicial Branch.

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office sent WBTV a lengthy statement explaining that it had lost about a year’s worth of jury trials and is now dealing with significant backlog.

The statement noted that District Attorney Spencer Merriweather had reorganized his office to make sure criminal prosecution is being prioritized. The statement also noted that the office is working diligently to try cases.

Kymber told WBTV that she is pushing for the district attorney’s office and Mecklenburg County Courts to work to speed up the process of trying cases.

“I want other women out there like me to know somebody has got a voice for them. Somebody decided to speak up and say, ‘hey Charlotte-Mecklenburg Courts let’s get these guys prosecuted. Let’s get them in a courtroom’,” said Kymber.

She said she is ready for her turn to face the judge and the man accused of raping her.

“I still sit there and think about what I’m gonna say on the stand. It’s a huge part of moving on and it’ll be a relief, win, lose or draw. It’ll still be a relief to get that in my past,” said Kymber.

Davis said people waiting for a court date are encouraged to stay in communication with court officials about pending cases.

She said court officials are trying to do what’s best for the community and the court personnel with regards a safe reopening process.

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